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Mixing Alcohol And Prescription Stimulants | Effects & Dangers

Published on September 1, 2021
Mixing Alcohol And Prescription Stimulants | Effects & Dangers

Mixing alcohol and prescription stimulants (or any prescription drugs) is never recommended. Using the two together can lead to serious side effects

The most common prescription stimulant is Adderall, a schedule II controlled substance made of a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. But when mixed with alcohol, the combination can have potentially dangerous effects.

Alcohol & Prescription Stimulants

Prescription medications like Adderall and Ritalin are prescribed by healthcare providers to manage the symptoms of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults and children. 

Stimulant medications work by increasing the availability of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine in the central nervous system.

But despite how much these drugs help people, they also have a high potential for abuse and addiction, especially when mixed with alcohol. 

Depressant & Stimulant Effects

Some people may believe alcohol and stimulant medications cancel each other out because one is a depressant while the other is a stimulant, but that’s not the case. They actually compete against each other and increase the negative effects of each substance.

Young People

Young adults and college students are the largest groups who use stimulants and mix them with alcohol. They often use stimulants to perform better at school and then use alcohol as a way to calm down or cope with stress.

Side Effects Of Mixing Alcohol & Prescription Stimulants

Some of the effects of mixing alcohol and stimulant drugs may include:

  • high blood pressure
  • changes in behavior
  • mood swings
  • dehydration
  • impaired judgment
  • mental health issues
  • trouble sleeping
  • heart problems
  • fever
  • heart attack
  • loss of coordination
  • increased heart rate

Effects Of Alcohol On ADHD

Beyond the side effects of drinking alcohol with prescription stimulants, alcohol consumption also has an effect on those with ADHD, including:

  • drowsiness
  • dizziness
  • problems concentrating
  • increased risk of heart damage/cardiovascular issues
  • liver damage

Dangers Of Mixing Alcohol & Prescription Stimulants

There are some dangers that come with alcohol use and the use of prescription stimulants. The main danger is that the mixture can be life-threatening. 

Additionally, other dangers may include:

  • risky behaviors: the mixture can lead to you participating in high-risk behaviors
  • alcohol abuse/drug abuse: mixing stimulants with alcohol is considered abuse and can lead to all sorts of issues including drug and/or alcohol addiction
  • overdose: you can unknowingly drink too much alcohol or take too high a dosage of stimulants and potentially cause an overdose
  • alcohol poisoning: if you drink too much alcohol trying to come down from the stimulants, alcohol poisoning can occur
  • organ damage: any form of alcohol or drug abuse can lead to long-term organ damage if you do it enough times

Substance Use Disorder Treatment

Addiction treatment centers use a combination of programs and services to address alcohol and drug addiction.

Detox programs, for example, are designed to help patients manage withdrawal symptoms in a safe and supervised environment. Because both prescription stimulants and alcohol can lead to physical dependence, a detox program may be recommended.

Other services may include therapy, counseling, and support groups.

If you or a loved one struggles with substance abuse, call our helpline to learn about our treatment option today.

Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
This page does not provide medical advice.

Elon University - Mixing Alcohol and Stimulant Drugs
National Institute on Drug Abuse - Prescription Stimulants
National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Dextroamphetamine and Amphetamine
National Library of Medicine: PubMed - Simultaneous Use Of Non-medical Adhd Prescription Stimulants And Alcohol Among Undergraduate Students
University of Michigan: University Health Service - The Effects of Combining Alcohol with Other Drugs

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